Written by Rich Forestano Wednesday, 28 August 2013 00:00
Joseph Wood, a Mineola resident and founder of three transitional homes for at-risk youths and adults, is in full support of a group of advocates fighting to change a very old law in New York State: the age to prosecute youngsters as adults.
Currently, among U.S. states only New York and North Carolina prosecute children as adults starting at 16 years old. The Raise The Age Campaign, an advocacy group calling on the state to change the age, held a rally at the Nassau County Supreme Court House on Aug. 20 and has garnered support from local officials to press Governor Andrew Cuomo to take action.
According to Raise The Age, the Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy reports some 50,000 youths ages 16 and 17 are arrested and tried as adults in criminal court each year—the vast majority for minor crimes (74.4 percent are misdemeanors).
Wood, 73, is retired and a former director of stewardship for the Diocese of Brooklyn. He operates and owns three Uniondale-based nonprofit homes for troubled youths and
adults. People are allowed to stay up to two years in dwellings.
Wood’s first home was Monica’s Manor. He was granted a 501(c)3 for the non-profit in 2002 and bought the house in 2005.
Wood thinks the age should be raised to 18.
“They can’t vote at 16, but they can be sat in a room filled with murderers? Yeah, they shouldn’t have to deal with that,” Wood said. “They’re still kids that young. At 18, they can do a lot of things they couldn’t do.”
In 2008, Wood’s brother-in-law Peter passed away, which prompted him to put a down payment on a second house, named Pete’s Place. In January 2011, Wood opened Rose’s Residence, named after Catholic Daughters of America’s Court of St. Rose of Lima. The Rose house holds the youngest residents.
“This idea of raising the age could create other programs to reach kids early enough to impart useful knowledge,” Wood stated. “There can never be enough outreach for the youth.”
Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice supports the concept broadly according to a spokesperson, as long as it follows the legislative process. She spoke Tuesday on the law’s effects on developing youth.
“The human, financial and public safety costs of this archaic system are staggering,” said Rice. “I am looking forward to working with the incredibly diverse coalition of people and advocates behind us to do something about it.”
A study from the National Campaign to Reform State Juvenile Justice Systems says that around 80 percent of youths released from adult prisons re-offend, and they are more likely to commit more serious crimes.
“Each year, thousands of New York teens are arrested and prosecuted and punished as adults they have yet to become,” Rice said. “Regardless of the offense, they are automatically introduced to an adult justice system that only increases the likelihood of their one-day re-offending.”
Angelo Pinto, a Raise The Age Campaign organizer from the Correctional Association of New York, said children as young as 13 can be convicted of certain crimes as adults in the state. He’s focused on the process of a young mind witnessing the incarceration process and how it possibly damages them emotionally.
“What that means in New York State is that young children can be housed in adult jails,” said Pinto. “The harsh realities of what happens to youths that are housed in adult jails and facilities are tremendous: Physical violence, suicide or sexual violence and of course the trauma of going through incarceration.”
While Wood acknowledges that kids can be headstrong, he firmly believes in the possibilities -- and benefits -- of rehabilitation.
“I put the young people together in the house so they can learn from one another’s experiences,” he said. “I speak at the jail every week and I’ve been doing it for the last 20 years. I meet young people that are in there. They need role models; people that can tell them it will get better with hard work and dedication.”
Saturday, 07 December 2013 00:00
Eleni Pitzel has lived in East Williston since 1975, having raised five children. Prior to that, she and her family lived in Floral Park. Pitzel is a longtime club member, and served as corresponding secretary for two years.
Pitzel has been the club’s art instructor for four years; she also teaches art at St. Paul’s Orthodox Cathedral in West Hempstead. “My artistic skills are a gift from God, and from that gift I give back to others,” Pitzel said.
Friday, 06 December 2013 00:00
A new proposal by interim Town of North Hempstead Supervisor John Riordan seeks to hike pay for elected officials. Riordan's plan would have board members’ salaries jump by $15,000 to a total of $55,000, an increase of approximately 37.5 percent. Other proposed salaries would be $138,000 for the supervisor, $115,000 for the receiver of taxes and $105,000 for the town clerk.
Riordan introduced the proposal at the last town board meeting, on Nov. 19, requesting that a resolution be placed on the agenda setting Dec. 10 for a public hearing to consider the adoption of an amendment that would enable the salary increases for the 2014 calendar year.
Thursday, 05 December 2013 00:00
MAA Travel Soccer teams wrapped up their respective fall 2013 seasons recently. Two MAA teams won titles this season in the Long Island Junior Soccer League; the BU13 Mineola Empire went 9-0-1 and the GU14 Red Bulls enjoyed a 8-1-1 campaign to each win first place trophies. The GU11 Honey Badgers went undefeated (6-0-2) and finished in second place in their division, as did the GU15 Mini-Mustangs with a 7-1-1 season record.
Thursday, 05 December 2013 00:00
The Mineola 12U fall intramural baseball team celebrated their fall season and tournament championship with a pizza party/awards dinner on Nov. 20. In addition to celebrating a great fall season and tournament championship, the boys were treated to an inspirational talk by coach Ken Conrade, the 2013 New York State High School Coach of the Year.
Conrade, the Kellenberg Memorial High School assistant principal for academics and girls varsity softball coach, was the keynote speaker for the awards dinner. He presented a very talked about baseball and youth sports.
Conrade’s talk was framed around each inning of a baseball game. He used stories and examples from the first to an extra “10th inning” to drive home both a sports and life lesson. For example, as part of the seventh inning stretch, he had each player stand up, stretch their legs and then go and thank their parents for their support and commitment to their baseball playing.